Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Into the outdoors with gun and camera

I played my first game of 5150 this evening, and this is what my squad encountered when they went to check out an anomaly on the scanner--lots of bugs.  And those critters were nasty!  The tank got shredded like an aluminum can at a frat party, but the squad (along with the other squad and combat walker, played by Ed) ended up fending off the aliens and completing its mission.

I really like the fast pace of this game, and the die rolls for starting conditions and events throughout the game convey a nice sense of narrative.  The game plays out like a story, and not just two sides having at it until one of them's completely destroyed.  This ruleset is one I want to play again.  My thanks to Ed for showing me 5150.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

You know what I haven't played in a while?

I've been so stuck on spaceships recently that I've neglected one of my other favorite games, Hordes of the Things.  It's been several months since my last game of HotT, and I'm ready to play it again.

So it's time to announce another Hordes of the Things gameday.  We kind of took the last two months off for the summer, but we're getting together on Sept. 24 for some HotT action in San Antonio.

Even though I haven't been playing, I did grab something to make a stronghold a couple of weeks ago.  This is an aquarium decoration I found at Wal-Mart.  It looks like it will be easy to convert it into a stronghold for my fire giant army, but I want to ask your opinion about something: Does it work as is, or you think I need to repaint it?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Another score from Half-Price

Hit the jackpot again at Half-Price Books over the weekend: A blister pack each of Star Frontiers frigates and scouts--one Federation set and one pirate set.  But the best find was this box of "Knight Hawks Privateers," a product I'd never seen before, depicting a faction I hadn't heard of till now:
The box of privateers holds six streamlined ships that would look at home in a 1960s aerospace magazine.  I really like the New Frontier design style of these vessels.  These spacecraft will also fit right in with the Flying Roadshow--or maybe they'll form a rival team.  And just like my painted Fed scouts and freighter, their look is also perfect for War Rocket.
These privateers even come with names.  The big one on the left is the Rollo's Revenge; the ship with the third nacelle that needs to be attached is the Moonbright Stinger; the third from the left is the Condor Class (not sure if that's its name or the class of ship); the tiny one up top is the Thruster Class (ditto); and the last two small shpis are the Lightspeed Lady (left) and the Golden Vanity:
And, just like those other blister packs I acquired, these come with Adventure Squares on the back of the cardboard:
Of course, this means more stuff to paint, on top of what I already have to paint.  But I guess that's a good problem to have, right?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday Starships: the name game

As I've mentioned before, I have a house rule that all players must name their starships before beginning any space battle.  I enforced this requirement at the South Texas Mini-Con, and I thought I would share the names the players came up with.  My space station (shown below being infested by the bugs), which served as the objective of the game, was an artifact of the long-lost Mag'Uph'Un Empire, so it was referred to as the Mag'Uph'Un:
Speaking of the bugs, Joe, the Entomalian player, named his largest battlecruiser the Scorpion King (technically a goof because the Scorpion-class BC is the asymmetrical ship, not the biggest one, which is a Roach-class BC), the other BC the Killer Roach (I think--he didn't write all the names down on the ships stat sheet), and his Hornet-class cruisers the Green (get it?) and the Doolittle (historical reference--the Hornet was the carrier that launched Gen. Doolittle's bomber raid on Japan not long after Pearl Harbor):
Chris, who played the birdlike Avarians, had fewer but more powerful ships.  He christened his Eagle-class battlecruiser the Sam'm (complete with apostrophe for that SF naming authenticity), his Screech Owl-class destroyer leader was the Big Bird, and his Hawk-class destroyer was named the Vultan in an homage to Brian Blessed's character in Flash Gordon ("First wave, DIVE!!!"):
Chip had the Carnivorans, and he assigned the Lion-class battlecruiser the name Mufasa, designated the two Panther-class cruisers as the Malcom and the Denzel (I know, Malcom X wasn't associated with the Black Panthers, but I didn't want to say anything at the time), and called his Cheetah-class detroyer (not pictured) the Chester:
Finally, there was this humble blogger and game organizer, playing the Aquarians.  I went with a (surprise!) nautical theme in designating my starships.  OK, it was more of a seafood theme--I called my Shark-class battlecruiser the Mrs. Paul, named my Barracuda-class cruisers the Fish Sticks and the Fillet O Fish, and gave my Piranah-class destroyer the moniker Chicken of the Sea (appropriate, because it spent the last three turns limping away from the battle with 3 out of its starting 30 power units):
So what are some of the names you've encountered in your starship games?  Let me know in the comments.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Wandering monsters for Holmes D&D

Awhile back, I created some expanded wandering monster charts for the Holmes version of the basic Dungeons & Dragons boxed set (pictured at right).  That's the version of the game I started playing with, and it still has a special place in my heart.  These days, there are quite a few others who look back fondly on this edition of D&D (also known as the "blue book" version, for the monochrome azure version of the box art on the rulebook), and some of them are still playing this version after all these years.

One thing, though--the original D&D basic set was aimed at neophytes, and it only covered the first three levels of character progression.  Although the book's monsters section had plenty of more powerful opponents (such as dragons and vampires), the wandering monster tables on page 10 only covered dungeon levels 1-3, with monster strength concentrated at the less powerful end of the spectrum (orcs and skeletons).

Over on Dragonsfoot, someone with the screen name Meepo posted The Holmes Companion, a four-page expansion to the blue book rules that takes characters to 9th ("name") level and beyond.  That way, you can watch your characters progress from 1st-level dragon fodder to Nth-level legends, all in the same ruleset.  Since there are now rules for upper-level types, I figured The Holmes Companion needed some wandering monster charts that take advantage of all the monsters the book, including the high-level denizens of the dungeon.  So I fit in almost every monster from that edition, along with a few surprises based on the Companion.  In a shameless play on nostalgia, I used the same font and formatting as the Holmes work, but expanded the tables to reach all the way down to the ninth dungeon level:
click to embiggen
I hope this ends up being of use to someone.  I think I will employ these tables myself to stock a dungeon, along with the Holmes rules, Meepo's expansion, and material taken from the version of B2: The Keep on the Borderlands that came with the Holmes boxed set.  In the meantime, enjoy the expanded wandering monster charts.  Please let me know if you find them helpful.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Happy (belated) birthday to SGDN!

Monday was the one-year anniversary of the Super Galactic Dreadnought blog.  I can't believe I missed that milestone!  I don't even have an excuse, as the South Texas Mini-Con was over by then.  I had planned on a celebratory post, but forgot all about it until now.  Oh well. 

Time for some reflection:  It's been a year since I started doing this, and now I have 78 followers.  This also marks my 210th post.

It all started with The Launching of the Dreadnought, which is now one of the most popular posts on SGDN.  To commemorate that inaugural entry, I've produced my own version (above) of the catalog photo (right) I used to illustrate my first blog entry, the picture that first attracted me to the Starfleet Wars line of spaceship miniatures.

In the past year (and five days), I've succeeded in my goals of more gaming with more people--and a lot of it is thanks to this blog, which allowed me to meet like-minded individuals and to get the word out about my games.  Speaking of which, I've run scenarios at two major area conventions and one local mini-con.  This blog has also inspired me to paint quite a few of my models so I can show them off here (but I'm still not painting enough to keep up with all the additional minis I keep acquiring).

I've even been able to play a couple of games using the rules that originally came with these minis, Starfleet Wars.  I've also written in-depth examinations of SfW and another game based on these miniatures, Galactic Knights.

I've also received great feedback from readers--from a professional game designer to a professional sculptor; from local players to fellow gamers from around the world.  So thanks, everyone, for coming aboard the Dreadnought.  Here's to another great year (or 360 days) ahead!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The best wife in the world--

--for so many reasons!  The latest justification?  When I got another hot tip about spaceship minis at Half-Price Books, my lovely bride was kind enough to stop on the way home from work and grab four boxes of miniatures for me.

Some wives might be grudgingly tolerate their husband's nerdy hobby; mine indulges me in it.  As you can see, this was quite the haul: Three boxes of Star Frontiers minis--including two boxes of Sathar ships, which I don't have--and the fleet pack of Cimexians from Brigade Models, which I'd never seen before.
The Sathar ships are pretty big.  The heavy cruiser consists of the five pieces of metal you see on the left; the other two ships are the Sathar frigate and light cruiser.  Unfortunately, the other heavy cruiser is missing the two separate engine nacelles, so that ship will only get half its propulsion.  That box did come with an extra pirate frigate, though, so it's not a total loss.
Speaking of pirates, the Sathar boxes each come with two models of assault scouts and the aforementioned frigate.  These models are a lot smaller, but will fit in nicely with my Federation scouts and tanker.  And, of course, the Fed box comes with two more scouts and another freighter, not to mention one more firgate, destroyer, and battleship to add to my transport fleet.
I'm intrigued by the Cimexian fleet.  That box holds 18 minis: a dreadnought, two battleships, a pair of cruisers, a couple of destroyers, a trio of frigates and eight corvettes.  Of course, these models are a lot smaller than most of my spaceships; these are fleet scale, comparable to minis for Full Thrust.  Their organic look and mandible shapes make me think they could work as more Entomalian ships, or maybe some new faction or species.  I'm not sure just yet.
It's more stuff to store untill I can get it painted.  Luckily, my wife not only understands my lead addiction, she enables it!  And she's not embarrassed by my gaming, either.  As my spouse was purchasing these toys for me, the clerk asked her if she played the game.  "No," she replied.  "I have a nerd at home."

Babe, your nerd thanks you!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Completed shuttles and fighters

I finally got around to finishing the shuttles I had based earlier.  At the same time, I painted up some smaller ships from the same line of minis as escorts for these transports. 
 The shuttles are repurposed Phantom VB Assault Ships from Valiant's Stardate: 3000 spaceship range.
They're painted same as the rest of my transport fleet: black primer followed by drybrushed metallic black, metallic gray, and metallic silver.
The fighters are also from Valiant--Intruder IID Scouts.  They'll make a nice surprise for any pirates or privateers who think that merchant convoy is unprotected--one of the transports is actually a makeshift carrier with a squadron of fighters!
In addition, I have some more SD:3K ships that fit right between these two models size-wise--the Vigilante IIIC Interceptor.  They should make nice heavy fighters, only slightly larger than my Starfleet Wars/Galactic Knights fighter minis.
After that, I have more Stardate: 3000 models to paint, including aliens!  Can't wait to play around with those ships.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday Starships: In action!

As I said yesterday, I had fun at South Texas Mini-Con.  For me, the highlight was running my second-ever game of Starfleet Wars.  I had designed a scenario for up to six people, but the early hour and relatively long drive for players meant I only had three other individuals there at the designated time. 
In order to have an even number of factions, I joined in to make it four players.  While I had enough ships to represent each of the Five Powers (plus my Terran White Fleet as a rebel faction), I ended up using just the Aquarian, Avarian, Carnivoran, and Entomalian forces and left the two Terran fleets in the box (sorry, Scott!).  You'll notice I also had calculators for everyone, as there's some (simple) math involved in Starfleet Wars.
The players were all familiar to me: Chris of the Hill Cantons played the Avarians; Chip "da Baron" directed the Carnivorans; Joe, our host for the Johnny Reb games I've blogged about, took the Entomalians; and I had the Aquarians.  The objective of the game was to gain control of a mysterious alien artifact of the ancient Mag'Uph'Un Empire that all four competing fleets had coincidentally encountered at exactly the same time.
As the battle commenced, the Entomalians split up, with the cruisers streaking toward the objective, while the battlecruisers veered toward the Aquarians.  Meanwhile, the Avarians and Carnivorans ignored the alien space station and started duking it out at long distance, as they began to close the gap.
The bug cruiser made it to the alien installation, but the scenario called for the player to make a roll on the Starfleet Wars boarding chart to actually gain control of the facility.  Joe ended up missing three boarding rolls in a row, leading to quips from Chip and Chris about the Entomalians skipping the airlock and looking for cracks in the foundation to crawl in, and me cracking myself up with a joke about an Ento pushing on a door with a big sign reading "PULL."
Long story short, with more manpower (bugpower) from the rest of their flotilla, the Entomalians eventually picked the lock and gained control of the space station.  While other players could have attempted to board and take it over themselves, we were all busy shooting each other up (OK, I had my Aquarians running away most of the time), and the bugs possessed the artifact as time ran out.  I had lost my battlecruiser, but I still had one cruiser and my destroyer, which was limping along at 10% capacity.  Although the birds and cats each still had their battlecruisers, so did the Entos.  More importantly, since Joe had been the only player to bother with reaching the objective, he was the clear victor in this scenario.
None of the other participants had ever played Starfleet Wars, and while they missed the vector movement of Galactic Knights, they all enjoyed the simplicity of SfW, which still required difficult resource management decisions.  And even though tracking power usage meant sometimes consulting the calculators, we still got through a 12-turn, four-player game in about three hours.  I will definitely be playing this game again, and maybe running it at the next con I attend.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


It's been a long day, but I wanted to share a little bit about the South Texas Mini-Con, which took place today here in New Braunfels (I'll have some more detailed posts later).  Turnout was light, but enthusiastic.  We had a little over a dozen people in all.  Highlights include:
  • One player prevailing in a starship free-for-all because he actually bothered to achieve the objective.
  • AD&D gone horribly wrong, featuring the characters from the 1980s cartoon series.
  • A marathon gladiator combat followed by a quick chariot race.
  • TPK in Tékumel.
  • The German land dreadnought.
My thanks to all the players who joined us, some of whom learned of the event by reading this blog.  My gratitude as well to the other folks who ran games today: Brad, Chris, Don, & Ed.  It was a fun way to spend a Saturday.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

SoTexMinCon roll call

OK, we're trying to get a preliminary handle on attendance for the South Texas Mini-Con this Saturday in New Braunfels.  Remember, this event is FREE for everyone.
The gathering of gamers will run from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. this Saturday, August 20, at the New Braunfels Convention Center (room 105, to be exact).  Pre-registration isn't necessary, but if you do plan on making it to the mini-con, please sound off below in the comments.  It would also help if let us know which game(s) you're interested in, or if you'll be bringing something of your own to play.  We just want to get an idea of how many people are gonna show up this weekend.

To save you from having to click another link, here's the convention gaming schedule:

Morning: 9:00-12:15
Afternoon: 12:45-4:00
    Evening: 4:30-7:45
    We hope you can make it this weekend.  Again, please let us know if you're gonna be there, and if you are, please drive safely.

    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    OGRE delayed till 2012

    Bad news, everyone:  Game designer Steve Jackson says the long-anticipated sixth edition of OGRE/GEV won't hit the stores until sometime next year.

    He says there's no marketing of financial reason, just not enough time to get it done in 2011.

    I'd been looking forward to getting this game--mainly for the maps, which will be compatible with my various OGRE miniatures, including North American Combine and Paneuropean units--but also for the rules consolidations.

    Oh, well.  This gives me more time to save up so I can buy the 12-pound game box.  A hundred bucks for a boardgame ain't cheap.

    Tuesday, August 16, 2011

    Old Starfleet Wars ad

    Surfing the net, I stumbled across this advertisement from this page of the July 1980 issue of Boys Life magazine.  I post it here for historical purposes:
    I don't remember for sure, but I probably saw this ad back in the day--I remember seeing this line of minis advertised somewhere.  This particular advertisement appeared in the Gifts & Gimmicks section of the magazine, stacked among all the other junk cool stuff companies were trying to sucker kids into buying:
    (Note the Charles Atlas ad at the top of the page.  And no, the knife is not a switchblade, it's a lock blade.)  Ah, nostalgia ...

    Monday, August 15, 2011

    South Texas Mini-Con reminder

    This Saturday, at the New Braunfels Convention Center in New Braunfels!

    It's the South Texas Mini-Con!  And it's free!

    Eleven hours of playing time!  Miniatures games!  Roleplaying games!  At the South Texas Mini-Con!

    All for free!

    The South Texas Mini-Con!  Did we mention it's FREE!

    From I-35,  take exit 187 to Seguin Road, and go seven blocks north.  Gameplay runs from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.  See the South Texas Mini-Con schedule for more details.

    Brought to you by the Texas OSR and people with way too much time on their hands.  Please game responsibly.

    Entomalian starfighters

    Got some more Starfleet Wars/Galactic Knights fighters painted up; this time 35 Mosquito attack craft to fly CAP for my Entomalian starfleet.
    I like using a whole bunch of colors on my Bug ships; as you can see from the closeup below, these models have a lot of details that drybrishing brings out.
    Now, I just have to repaint my scores of Terran fighters to match my Terran fleets (plus a handful of non-SfW/GK small craft for use as independents or space pirates), and I'm done with all my starfighters.

    Sunday, August 14, 2011

    Sunday Starships: miscellaneous

    Rounding out my gallery of spaceship pictures, I have an eclectic group of vessels which gave me a chance to add some variety to my various paint jobs.
    These starships are from three different lines of minis:
    I haven't had a chance to use any of these models in a game, but I have some ideas: The SD ships would make nice luxury yachts, and the SF minis could make a great recurring group of sometime allies/sometime adversaries.  The starbombers can serve as pirates or, if I ever get my starship campaign up and running, players' ships.
    Oh, and I apologize for the lack of visible detail on the lighter-colored ships.  The flash really washed everything out, and my rudimentary photo editing skills (and software) couldn't do much to salvage it.
    This might be the last installment of Sunday Starships for awhile; although I have additional spaceships to show you, none of them are painted yet.  And I doubt I'll have time before the South Texas Mini-Con next week--but I should have plenty of pictures from that, so stay tuned!

    Saturday, August 13, 2011

    Missing ship stats

    I need stats for the Valiant-class galactic dreadnought.
    I came across a problem as I was compiling a list of of all ships and stats for Starfleet Wars:  There's not a listing for the Valiant-class galactic dreadnought anywhere.  It's not in the main rulebook; I didn't see it in the SfW supplement, and I couldn't find it in the Observer's Directory & ID Manual

    Then I remembered; a few months ago, maxmike mentioned in this comment that Superior Models released the Terran Valiant--and its Carnivoran-equivalent, the Jaguar--right as the miniatures company was going out of business.  He said the only source of stats for these ships was a retail flyer from the manufacturer, long since lost in the mists of time.

    So, anyone have a copy of that Superior handout with the new ship stats?  Since the answer is probably "no," how about suggestions for statting out the Val (and the Jag) for Starfleet Wars?

    Thursday, August 11, 2011

    Painted space station

    I painted up this Battlefleet Gothic space station for use as an objective in my upcoming Starfleet Wars game at the South Texas Mini-Con.
    I attempted to do something different with the paint scheme for this mini in order to distinguish it from my spacefleets and give it the appearance of great age.  I primered it white, then drybrushed with grey and black, in a sort of reverse of my usual method.
    It came out looking horrible!  I was ready to scrap the entire paint job, when my wife suggested drybrushing with a metallic blue to make the model stand out on the table.  Thanks to her suggestion, I was able to avoid repainting the mini.
     I'm still not entirely happy with how the space station looks, but it'll do for now.
    The mini came with a bunch of arms that extend from the outside of the wheel, and some more protuberances to go on top of the thing.  As you can see, I left them off this model.
    Like I said, I may redo this miniature at a later date, but for now I've got a space station model for my games.